FORT BENNING, Ga. - Grab your swimsuit, camera, sunscreen and a picnic basket. If you don't have plans for Independence Day weekend, don't worry. There are plenty of options in the valley area and farther afield, including food, fireworks, concerts and festivals. So plan to celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence - officially adopted by the 13 original colonies 234 years ago - all weekend long.

JULY 2
Aca,!Ac No Shame Theater. 10:30-midnight. Springer Opera House. $5.
It's original theater (or music, poetry, acrobatics, etc.) with an Independence Day twist. If you want to perform, show up a half-hour early with an original, five-minute performance piece. It doesn't need to have a patriotic theme - but it's a nice touch.
www.noshame.org/columbus

JULY 3
Aca,!Ac Parade, Patriotism and Popsicles. 10-11:30 a.m. Downtown Columbus. Free.
Featuring Springer Theatre Academy stilt walkers and students costumed in red, white and blue, the parade begins at the Springer Opera House and is open to the public to join in. After heading around the block, participants will gather in the Mainstage Theatre to sing patriotic songs and enjoy popsicles.
706-320-3433

Aca,!Ac 1850s-Style Celebration. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Westville, Ga. $5-$10.
The patriotic celebration features races, contests and a bluegrass band. Discounts are available for students, seniors and military.
888-733-1850

Aca,!Ac Independence Day Celebration. 2 p.m.-midnight. VFW Post 5180, Seale, Ala. $5 cover for band.
Enjoy a picnic lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs and sides and family activities like horseshoes, face painting, a greased pig chase and a dunking booth. Karaoke goes from 3 to 7 p.m., and the band Haywire will perform at 8 p.m. Fireworks start after dark.
334-614-5529 or 334-855-0090.

Aca,!Ac Car Show and Back to the '50s Dance. 4-8 p.m. FDR State Park. $5 parking.
If you want to enter your car for the show, from 4 to 6 p.m., the cost is $20. Kicking off at 7 p.m., the dance includes a costume contest, limbo and trivia. The dance costs $2.
706-663-4858

Aca,!Ac Independence Day Celebration. 4-11 p.m. Stewart-Watson Field, Fort Benning. Free.
Along with the best fireworks show around, Fort Benning's gala event features inflatables, kids' activities, a Silver Wings demonstration and live music. Artists include Neal Lucas, Pipers Down, Peggy Jenkins and Whisky Bent. Fireworks start at 10 p.m.
706-545-7978.

JULY 3-4
Aca,!Ac Star Spangled Beach Party. 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Callaway Gardens. $12.50-$25.
This two-day event features Florida State University's Flying High Circus, miniature golf, shuffleboard, table tennis, beach activities and more. The Michael Blair Beach Olympics will start at 6 p.m. July 3, and fireworks will begin at 9:30 p.m. July 4.
www.callawaygardens.com.

JULY 4
Aca,!Ac July 4th Celebration. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Florence Marina State Park. $9 includes parking.
Celebrate with games, a watermelon eating contest and boat tours. The park is an hour-and-a- half drive south from Fort Benning in Omaha, Ga.
229-838-4706

Aca,!Ac Thunder on the Hooch. 5-10 p.m. Phenix City Amphitheater. Free.
This annual event includes crafts, games, contests and a new "Do the Dew Obstacle Course." Fireworks start at 9:30 p.m.
334-291-4719.

Aca,!Ac Here We Go. 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Calvary Baptist Church. Free.
Attend a patriotic music celebration followed by a barbecue lunch. Military will be recognized.
706-322-1491.

Aca,!Ac July Fourth Celebration. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Northside Baptist Church. Free.
Enjoy a Independence Day themed musical followed by a cookout open to the public.
706-324-7183

Aca,!Ac Family Fourth. 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Morningside Baptist Church. Free.
After a patriotic service, a family festival will begin. The celebration includes barbecue, hot dogs, hamburgers, water rides, inflatables, a gospel singing group and more.
706-561-0343.

Aca,!Ac God Bless America Service. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. St. Luke United Methodist Church. Free.
The service will include patriotic songs before lunch on the grounds.
706-327-4343

Aca,!Ac The Sound of Freedom. 10:55 a.m.-noon. Edgewood Presbyterian Church. Free.
The church will present a dramatic interpretation of the story of the pilgrims and early patriots. Military will be recognized.

Page last updated Thu July 1st, 2010 at 17:32